13 February 2007

The end of another wonderful trip draws to a close

The time has just flown by again. I can't believe its time to pack up and return to the States tomorrow!

Monday we made the trek back to San Jose to see the Audiologist and picked up John's hearing aid. He now hears so clearly that we plan on getting another hearing aid for the left ear on our next trip.

After the doctor visit we checked out new SUV prices with a couple of local dealers to get an idea of what to expect when we move. The taxes run about 40%, so a small KIA or Nissan is going to run over $32,000. We've done a little research and, unless the import tax laws change, it will make more more sense to buy in Costa Rica rather than import a vehicle from the States.

Once again Maritza & Vinicio opened up their home to us for the past week so we decided to give them a gift. We purchased a wireless router so Maritza could use her laptop anywhere in the house and not just in Vinicio's office. Little did we know how difficult it would be to install! We finally broke down on Tuesday and got a local tech to come over to the house and configure it for us. Turns out ICE (the national Costa Rican Telephone & Power company) has a different way of providing DSL service than the States. This information will come in handy when we have to configure one for ourselves when we make the move. Would you believe the tech only charged us $12USD for a house call?

We spent our last day in our future hometown, Atenas, getting to know the area a little better. We had lunch in the little open-air restaurant, Tipico Camario, located across from the park. You can just barely see the steps to the restaurant behind the blue car in this photo.

After lunch we did some people watching and took a few more pictures. Take a look at this beautiful blue sky that is so typical of a summer day. We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around Atenas and taking every hi-way and bi-way we could find. We found some interesting sights, but many roads were just gravel roads to nowhere. We are headed back to Texas tomorrow to get back into the daily grind.
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11 February 2007

A Busy Weekend...

We left Trogon Lodge Friday morning and took a leisurely drive back toward San Jose so that John could make his appointment with the Audiologist in the afternoon. We found state-of-the-art hearing aids cost half of what they cost in the States! John went ahead and placed an order that we will pick-up on Monday. Friday night Marco and Carolina took us to dinner at a wonderful resort near Alajuela called Xandari. We managed to get a table on the open balcony with a fabulous view of the Central Valley.

Saturday we went shopping with Maritza for souvenirs and took a drive up to Zarcero (dairy country) for lunch. While we were there we took some of the topiary photos you see here. Sunday we spent some time in the central park of Alajuela and then we went for a drive with Vinicio & Maritza stopping for dinner along the way. After dinner we went to meet Maritza neice's husband, Minor, who just happens to be a builder. We took a look at his portfolio and discussed what it will take to build our house in Costa Rica. At first we would like to build a detached garage with a studio apartment upstairs that we can live in while the actual house is being built. Minor is going to work up a proposal for us so that we'll have an idea of what it will take to make this happen.
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09 February 2007

Trogon Lodge in San Gerardo de Dota

Thursday we took of to drive up into the mountains along the Pan-American Highway that leads to Panama. Carolina had told us about some cabins that are owned by her friends so we decided to check it out. Trogon Lodge is located in San Gerardo de Dota, a steep valley near "Cerro de la Muerte," Costa Rica's highest peak. The lodge itself is located at an altitude of 7,000 feet in the middle of an incredible forest of oak trees and jungle vegetation with a river flowing through the property. This area is called the "Cuna del Quetzal" (Cradle of the Quetzal). Here is a picture of this magnificient bird.

The lodge also hosts an aireal canopy tour. This peaceful scenery is really beyond description. After sunset the temperature dropped down several degrees to perfect sleeping weather. This is one place we'd really like to go back and spend so more time.

We arrived in time for lunch and a woman in the office said we needed to hurry over to the restaurant for lunch before they closed and she would send the manager over later with a key for our cabin. When the manager came to our table he gave us our key and told us about their services, rates and invited us to go on the Quetzal hunt Friday morning at 6:15 AM. I kept looking at this man, thinking that he looked familiar to me. He said his name was Lio and to ask for him if we needed anything during our stay.
As soon as he left the table, I told John I felt I knew Lio and I'd be right back. I found Lio in the kitchen and I asked him for his last name. When he gave it to me I realized this was the same Lionel I had worked with for 4 years more than 30 years ago. When I gave Lio my last name he suddenly recognized me too. We had such a good time catching up on each others' lives and remembering all our old friends. It really is a very small world!
This morning we met with Lio and several other lodge guest to go in search of the elusive Quetzal. We spent 2 hours searching and were about to give up when we ran into another guide that had just spotted a pair looking to build a nest.
We managed to get a good glimpse of the pair, but the photos we took came out too dark. If John can work some magic with PhotoShop we will post them here later.

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08 February 2007

Our own little piece of paradise

Well, its official, we now own a little piece of Costa Rica. We met with our attorney yesterday evening and Carolina signed the documents to transfer title to us. It will take about 2 weeks for the property to appear in our name in the "Registro Nacional de Costa Rica".

While we were with the attorney we went ahead and set up a Sociadad Anonima (the equivalent of a corporation) in the name of "Heger y Wegner S.A." This will make it easier for Vinicio to act on our behalf until we actually make the move.
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07 February 2007

Volcan Irazu

We did a little sightseeing today and headed out toward Cartago and the Irazu Volcano. Irazu is the highest volcano in Costa Rica. There have been at least 23 eruptions since 1723. The most recent was from 1963 to 1965. It showered San Jose and the neighboring towns with ashes for about 2 years.

Here is a view looking down into the crater. Its about 300 meters deep with a diameter of 1,050 meters.

It was such a clear day you could actually see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

Later in the afternoon we went to the Jade Museum in San Jose to view acient Costa Rican arts and crafts.
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06 February 2007

Altitude 2300', Latitude 84.27.728 W, Longitude 9.59.275 N

We had an uneventful flight down to Costa Rica yesterday. Once we arrived we picked up a rental SUV and a Garmin GPS with maps of Costa Rica. This morning we went up to our lot in Atenas and using GPS we were able to plot our exact location as follows: Altitude 2300', Latitude 84.27.728 North, Longitude 9.59.275 West. The exact altitude may be a little off, but its as close as we can calculate with the tools we have.

Costa Rica has a very interesting way of giving directions and addresses. Most streets don't have names and you almost never see house numbers. All addresses are given in measurements from known landmarks. So, using the Tico method our address will be something like this:

100M Este de la Escuela Fatima

Costado Oeste de la Plaza de Futbol

El Cajon de Atenas, Costa Rica

Once the house is constructed we will have a south easterly vista of the surrounding hilltops.

After our visit to Atenas, we took a drive to the Pacific coast to see Playa Jaco. Along the way, we stopped at the Rio Tarcoles to see the crocks.

Playa Jaco turned out to be a big disappointment from the beach it was many years ago. Now it's a dirty little tourist trap with lots of grandious plans to build big hotels, golf courses and condos for the tourist industry.

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02 February 2007

Mi Chunche en la Cocina

Since some have you have enjoyed a meal or two at our place, I thought it might be fun to create a cookbook of some of our favortie recipes. If you look on the right side you will see a link to the recipes I have posted so far. If you have any recipes you'd like to share send them to me and I'll get them posted for you.
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Learning to speak Spanish

Yesterday John installed RosettaStone's language learning software for Spanish (Levels 1 & 2) on his laptop. This is supposed to be the best language learning course on the market. This should help him learn to speak, read and write in Spanish in a relatively short period of time. Even though I'm fully conversant, I'm hoping I'll be able to use the program to "bone up" on my writing skills.
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